HORACE AND PETE – REVIEW – Louis C.K. writes and directs and stars in a brilliant dark drama set in a run down Brooklyn pub.
Louis C.K.’s new webseries Horace and Pete dropped taking everyone by complete surprise. The second surprise was the tone which was much dark and more dramatic than anything we’d seen so far, though some episodes of Louis had already hinted at depths of brilliant drama. Set in a dingy Brooklyn pub, Horace (Louis C.K.) and Pete (Steve Buscemi) are the two owners who have followed a century old tradition of taking control of the pub which has always been run by a Horace and a Pete. Uncle Pete (Alan Alda) is the prior owner who now tends bar and who ran it with the previous Horace, Horace’s father. An assortment of customers hang out like an ensemble from an episode of Cheers written by Samuel Beckett and include Jessica Lang as Horace senior’s former lover and Stephen Wright as a mumbling drunk jotting things in a little notebook. Uncle Pete is the foul mouthed, politically incorrect id of the bar and the repository of the dark history. Edie Falco is the sister who feels that they should sell the pub and get on with their lives, to escape its toxic effects.
I’ve got to episode four and find this to be some of the best stuff that Louis C.K. has ever done. And I say that as a huge fan of his stand up and his series. Having carved out a niche of his own creative freedom, he is here using it to do something that feels wholly new and totally ambitious. There are moments of wry comedy and dark almost terrifying honesty. Some of the episodes are long with an intermission, reinforcing the impression that this is primarily a theatrical work. The last one is a mere thirty minutes.
As James Stewart said in Harvey, ‘No one brings anything small into a bar’. And here everyone has demons and problems. Pete has seriously mental problems, has been hospitalized and must take his meds. Horace has one broken marriage and a faltering relationship with his overweight daughter. His son hasn’t spoken to him for years. He is a good listener, but incapable of fully expressing himself. Louis C.K. the director lets his amazing cast do their work. In one episode Laurie Metcalf, playing Horace’s ex-wife, tells a long story and it must be a good ten to fifteen minutes before the camera even reveals who she is talking to. Her performance steps right up to the challenge. Of course this could be seen as indulgent and it won’t be for everyone, but for me Horace and Pete reveals Louis C.K. to be a truly great dramatic writer while never losing sight of the dark comedy of failure.